Let's take a trip down memory lane. It's August. The Trade Deadline has come and gone, and the Cardinals' roster has been pared down heavily. They have just returned home from a road trip against the Tampa Bay Rays and the Kansas City Royals. The lowly Oakland Athletics and the disappointing New York Mets are in St. Louis.
The Cardinals took the first two games against the A's, winning 7-5 and 6-2 behind strong offensive outputs from Paul Goldschmidt, Tommy Edman, Jordan Walker, and Nolan Arenado. Dakota Hudson pitched into the 7th inning in the second game.
The series finale against the A's didn't go as planned, and the entire series against the Mets was frustrating. In the next four games, the Cardinals were shut out 8-0 against the Athletics, lost 4-2 on Thursday against the Mets, 7-1 on Friday, and 13-2 on Saturday. If the nails weren't already in the coffin at this point, they were driven fully through after the weekend.
Clearly, both the offense and pitching sputtered from August 16th-19th. Scoring only 5 runs across four games is a recipe for disaster. Allowing 32 runs in 4 games spells a total collapse. Due to injuries, the Trade Deadline, and unreliable pitchers, Oli Marmol was forced to use not even his "B" bullpen, but rather, he was forced to use pitchers who were not in the plans to play at all in the majors this year.
On August 16th, Matthew Liberatore gave up 6 runs in 4.1 innings. Casey Lawrence, a 35-year-old journeyman from Pennsylvania, had to finish the game. He pitched 4.2 innings, giving up only 2 runs. A good showing, but not a name we expected to see. On Thursday, Adam Wainwright fought through 6 innings to keep the Cardinals in the game. He left the game down by 3 runs in the 7th. Andre Pallante, Drew VerHagen, and DJ King finished the last 3 innings. The hope for the year was that pitchers such as Gio Gallegos, Genesis Cabrera, and Ryan Helsley would get to pitch in close games for the win. Instead, Marmol had to use his "B" bullpen, and the Cardinals ended up losing the game.
The next two games were total blowouts, and pitches such as James Naile, Andrew Suarez, and Guillermo Zuniga were tasked with pitching nearly 9 innings in two games. Suffice it to say, Marmol needed bullpen help, and he needed it badly.
The Cardinals' offseason plans include a dedicated goal to add pitching. While the starters have understandably been given most of the attention, the bullpen could also use some reinforcements.